Kenmore West's win gives them at least a share of the NFL Title
By David Yarger
It's been an up-and-down season for the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons. It's been the opposite for the Kenmore West Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils defeated the Falcons on Thursday, 9-1, to clinch at least a share of the Niagara Frontier League title - their first since 1992.
Ken-West coach John Haynes said he was excited for his team to achieve the feat.
"It feels great; I'm very proud of the kids," Haynes said. "It's been a great experience, I'm proud of the kids for what they've done all year and giving the effort they've given."
Haynes noted how the team is currently in a strenuous week, with seven games in six days. The Falcons played five in four days, so far. For other teams, he said it could be tougher to go through a stretch like that, due to the lack of pitchers on a team. But it hasn't been one for him and his team, because he has six to eight kids who can throw.
For the Falcons, after coming off a win vs. CSAT, they stumbled out of the gate vs. West. They were sat down, 1-2-3, in the first inning by Blue Devils starter Owen Green. They then surrendered 2 runs off an infield groundball that plated Zach LaPlante and a hustling Ben Serrano from second.
It wasn't until the third inning that N-W put up a run. But by then, West had already put up 3 more runs in the second inning, 2 of them coming off a single from LaPlante.
DJ Stillinger drove in Tim Metzger for the Falcons' lone run of the game.
After the top of the third inning, it was once again all Blue Devils. Scott Hanesworth drove in Jacob Pray in the bottom of the third with a single, making it 6-1 Blue Devils.
After being sat down 1-2-3 in the fourth inning, the Devils came back with 2 runs in the fifth. Rich Fries hit a double into the left-centerfield gap that plated Pray and Dom Schmidt, to make it 8-1. Schmidt drove in LaPlante in the sixth inning with a single to put the cherry on top to a historic day for the Blue Devils.
LaPlante led the Ken-West offense, going 3-4 with 2 runs scored and two RBIs, while Fries added two RBIs, and Hanesworth went 2-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
For the Falcons, Stillinger led the offense going 3-3 with an RBI.
Haynes said winning the NFL was a goal the team was looking to achieve since the preseason.
"In the preseason meeting, I said our goal was to win the NFL championship," Haynes said. "Obviously, were not done there. Kenmore West has gotten a lot of red patches (second place patch for the section). We want the blue patch (first place patch) for that sectional. We wanna go on further."
Haynes said the team has a lot of goals they want to achieve, and he said he hopes the NFL title is the first of many.
The Blue Devils' (10-2) next game will be back home at Sheridan Park vs. Niagara Falls at 4:45 p.m. on Friday.
The Falcons' (3-9) next game will be vs. North Tonawanda at 3 p.m. Saturday. The game will be played at Niagara Falls High School.